Maryland court orders officer to testify in Freddie Gray case
Maryland's high court on Tuesday ordered a Baltimore police officer to testify against colleagues charged in the April fatality of Freddie Gray, a black man whose death triggered protests and rioting.In a victory for prosecutors, the Court of Appeals ordered Officer William Porter to take the stand against Sergeant Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson. The order, signed by Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, sent their cases back to a Baltimore court for trial.Gray, 25, died in April from a neck injury suffered in the back of a police van. His death sparked unrest in the majority black city and spurred a U.S. debate on police treatment of minorities. Six officers have been charged in Gray's death. Prosecutors tried Porter first, hoping to secure a conviction before using him as a witness in other cases. But his manslaughter trial ended in a hung jury in December.Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams ordered him in January to testify against Goodson, the van driver, and White, even though Porter faces a retrial in June.
The move to force testimony in a co-defendant's trial was seen as unprecedented in Maryland.Porter's lawyers appealed the order, saying that prosecutors had called him a liar when he testified in his own defense. They contended that testifying against the other officers would compromise his constitutional right against self-incrimination.
A spokeswoman for one of Porter's attorneys, Joseph Murtha, declined to comment on the high court's decision. A spokesman for the Baltimore police union was not immediately available to comment.State attorneys argued before a seven-judge panel this month that Porter would have limited immunity and prosecutors would be barred from using his words against him.Although Williams had ordered Porter to testify against White and Goodson, he turned down a prosecutors' motion to force Porter to testify against the other three officers.
Three of the charged officers, including Porter and White, are African-American. It was not immediately clear when the trials would resume. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Donna Owens in Baltimore; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alan Crosby)